- Top Projects – Project of the Year: Runner Up, Daily Journal of Commerce
- Top Projects – 1st Place Senior Living, Daily Journal of Commerce
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Situated on 40 acres of historic, riverfront property in Lake Oswego. Mary’s Woods is a 501(c)(3) continuing care retirement community founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. For over 20 years, it has grown and flourished, continuing to serve the Sisters, residents and the public.
Because the Willamette River was once the main access to their property, their first buildings were placed on the far east edge of the site. The West Field, which now borders Highway 43, was always considered the back of the property and was, therefore, left undeveloped, until now.
When the Sisters later decided to add more housing and services, they took the opportunity to amplify their presence in the greater Lake Oswego community. The plan—what we now know as The Village at Mary’s Woods—was developed for a massive expansion to include independent and assisted living, wellness amenities, and public-facing retail. The expansion reaches across the west field, greets the public from Highway 43, and integrates the new Village at Mary’s Woods development with the existing Mary’s Woods community. As Project Architect George Signori said, “Interestingly, the last thing the Sisters built is actually their new front door.”
A Welcoming, Comprehensive Approach to Design
The overarching goal for the new Village at Mary’s Woods development was to create a public presence while connecting back to the existing campus. The Sisters envisioned a community that was village-like in character and would compliment the design of their landmark 1910 Provincial House. The village concept provides an elegant solution for public inclusion while endearing residents to their expanding community.
The word “village” is often used in naming conventions for modern developments as a means of describing a certain quaintness or charm. In the case of The Village at Mary’s Woods, the design employs a combination of recurring themes working together to create a traditional village in a more literal sense.
The Village at Mary’s Woods pushes the boundaries of the conventional senior living community. The design team began with the idea that quality design does not have a targeted age range. What delights seniors about the built environment is also what delights Gen X-ers through Gen Z-ers. Everyday visitors to the campus would benefit from the same high caliber offerings and range of services that appeal to the residents – such as a wealth of dining options, entertainment and beautiful outdoor spaces. Inspired by the lifestyles and longevity of European villagers, The Village at Mary’s Woods strives to be an active and engaging place for all to enjoy.
The Village expansion embraces intergenerational living and involvement with the surrounding community. The intent was to create a safe space for residents to leave their buildings, staying active and exploring the new paths and amenities while engaging with visitors of all ages. Commercial spaces such as a coffee shop, salon and community event space serve as a bridge between generations and provide the opportunity for residents to make meaningful connections to visitors from outside.
The Mediterranean architecture, white stucco, and brick is warm and inviting from an aesthetic standpoint and achieves the client’s goal of cohesiveness between the new buildings and the historic Provincial House. Much like a traditional European village, material choices and design elements are pushed to work beyond aesthetics and serve as powerful tools in communicating a sense of place. The Village at Mary’s Woods employs a combination of recurring themes that work together to establish hierarchy among buildings and help with wayfinding.
Although buildings vary in materials, the architectural language remains the same. The new Village Square welcomes visitors with a historically-inspired pairing of brick and cast stone. Arches, gables, columns, and the signature cupola on the central building help people understand where they are on the property with minimal signage. Designed to market-rate housing standards, the level of quality and architectural detail throughout the expansion is greater than a typical suburban apartment complex.
Many elements that add to the overall character also play a role in wayfinding. For example, corner decks for residential units add an extra use but also provide a landmark on campus. Entry porticos—columns, classical moldings—evoke character and help differentiate public from private building entrances.
Another example of informative design in action is the tower employed in the Village Square. Drawn from the centuries-old practice of locating a tower to signify an important civic space, the tower in the Village Square draws the focus towards the public facing hub of the Village.
The tower height presented one of the first challenges in project planning. In order to create the visual impact needed and effectively serve its purpose as a tool in wayfinding, the design team proposed a 65-foot tower that could be seen from the highway and throughout the Village.
Per code, however, the building height was capped at 35 feet. An exception was made for a bell tower however, allowing it to soar 65-feet and serve as a beacon within the community. The tower was constructed originally without a bell, but after some creative solutions developed by the onsite project team during construction, alterations were made to the tower to add a Carillon sound system hidden with speakers discreetly built into the tower windows.
Another key marker of a traditional village is a clearly defined perimeter between the built and unbuilt; what is city and what is landscape; what is urban and what is rural. To achieve this within The Village at Mary’s Woods, the master plan denotes the edge of campus by balancing buildings with landscaped open spaces. There are three main open spaces–the Village Square, Village Green and Veronica Plaza with its chef’s garden. These open spaces are connected by streets, secondary alleyways, and “secret” pedestrian paths. Like a traditional village design, open spaces, walkways, and architecture become more intimate as they lead beyond the public-facing buildings and inward toward the residential community.
The relationship of the new buildings to the adjacent forested area presented a challenge and necessitated land use approval from the City. Ankrom Moisan sought an “alternative method request” for the Kellogg Assisted Living Building to allow for common spaces to open to the corridors which helps with the open nature of the floor plan. It was a potential change planned for future codes that the design team was able to secure in advance.
Assisted living is the only building in the new development to be located on the north side of Mary’s Woods entry street. It is tucked into a grove of well-established fir trees, many of which R&H was able to save after they were originally slated for cutting. The effect is an intimate, peaceful setting that honors seniors who need a little extra assistance.
Construction Experience, Scope, Challenges and Execution
Prior to the construction of this most recent phase, R&H had performed several other projects on the Mary’s Woods campus including the Marie Rose Center Assisted Living and Memory Care Wing addition, the addition of 17 luxury independent living estates and a 2,375 s.f. commons addition at the heart of the community.
This previous experience provided the R&H team with an in-depth understanding of Mary’s Woods systems, processes and guidelines. With this solid foundation, R&H was able to meet the challenge of marrying public and private with minimal disruptions to staff, guests and residents in this bustling community.
Building Resident Relations alongside Construction
Redevelopment projects of current senior living facilities pose an interesting challenge for project teams. During the project, R&H and other project team members carefully coordinated all moving parts to ensure a safe and secure site while keeping residents informed of the construction process. Residents remained on-site and amenities remained open and active throughout the entire construction project.
To accommodate residents and minimize disruption, R&H maintained an open line of communication on any upcoming closures, construction activities, and anticipated noise and dust. Through proactive and transparent communication on current or upcoming activities, R&H was able to manage expectations and anticipate potential disruptions.
R&H also implemented weekly information sessions called “Coffee Time with Wayne,” where residents were invited to ask questions and address concerns with superintendent Wayne Kunzman. This proved effective to both reduce the potential spread of inaccurate information and create a sense of ownership in the building process for the residents.
Occupancy of the new development was phased which meant construction crews needed to steadily ramp up efforts for safety, jobsite cleanliness, wayfinding, and cordoned-off areas with trip hazards as residents began moving in to their homes.
Sequence of Work: A feat of logistics.
R&H was originally contracted for six buildings, Collins, O’Neill, Pepin, Kellogg, Dunn and Nathman, and the related sitework. Our work began with Collin and Dunn.
As the commons area building and heart of the new Village, Mary’s Woods required that the Dunn building be open and fully operational 30 days prior to any residents moving into the new community. This allowed the restaurant, café, bistro and other support areas to have time to settle in and ensure they were fully ready to serve guests upon residents moving into their new homes.
To maximize efficiency on the site, R&H began construction on residential building Collin before beginning Dunn Commons, since the Collin Building included a more extensive scope of work with 54 residential units.
With these two buildings rising simultaneously, R&H was able to overlap trades in the buildings and relay a subcontractor from one to the other without lag time that could result in delays. Dunn was turned over for completion in November 2018. Collin followed behind with a January 2019 opening, effectively achieving the Client’s goal for opening the Dunn Commons Building in advance—even with time to spare.
When Dunn and Collins were well underway, R&H crews began work on the other residential buildings that were part of the original scope package. During that time, another challenge and opportunity was presented. Mary’s Woods added three buildings to the scope of work (one residential and two amenity buildings)!
Inserting three new buildings into the overall project schedule greatly increased the total project value and presented an additional layer of complexity with regards to maintaining sitework and concrete trades on the site. The challenge was orchestrating timing so that subcontractors could move from building to building in sequence without a lag that would force them to break from the project site.
R&H addressed this challenge by breaking out an early work package enabling the release of sitework and concrete contractors to perform their scopes of work for the site and pads long before vertical construction was to begin, saving both time and money.
“We started with a difficult, complex project, then expanded the scope. The R&H team made every effort to absorb the added work while keeping us on track in terms of costs and schedule, coordinating a multi-layered construction effort in a finely orchestrated manner.” – Don Hynes, CPM, Owner’s Representative, Mary’s Woods
A Layered Approach to Quality
The client, Mary’s Woods, insisted on a high level of quality and attention to detail in design and construction.
“Mary’s Woods is top caliber. They just do everything right. There’s a lot of attention to detail. Quality is really something that they value, and we value them as a partner because of that.” – Mark Simpson, R&H Senior Project Manager
R&H’s commitment to achieving the highest quality was unwavering throughout construction and closeout of the project. During the sitework phase of the project, R&H performed mock-ups of key building components of the envelope to ensure the highest quality and approach to construction.
All aspects of work underwent an extensive pre-punch process by R&H’s team to identify areas of work to be addressed by each subcontractor. To aide in efficiency and clear communication, PlanGrid technology was utilized for the entire punch list process. Photo documentation of each issue was recorded in the program and labeled on the floorplan along with the corresponding responsible party for repairs.
To supplement PlanGrid, the team also performed what is internally referred to as “rainbow punch” in which painters tape was color coded for each subcontractor and placed in areas that needed to be addressed. Adding the rainbow punch process was an efficient solution to track all details while maintaining schedule pace. No stone was left unturned to ensure the work was executed with the highest regard for quality.
Results that Matter: Meeting Schedule and Budget
The overall project was delivered on time. By precisely sequencing the work, R&H was able to deliver phased occupancy of the residential buildings and complete the commons building, Dunn, well in advance of the required 30-day window before residents moved in. Budget was carefully tracked, and the overall project was under budget, which allowed the client to add back several items that were removed during the design phase to save costs.
Additional Key Challenges and Solutions
Challenge: Due to the large-scale nature of the nine-building development and the extremely busy construction climate, there were concerns prior to the start of the project about capacity of the subcontracting pool in regards to crew availability and scheduling.
Solution: R&H’s senior project manager broke the nine-building and site work project into three distinct projects – each with its own dedicated project management team. Using this approach allowed for stronger subcontractor coverage (for example, by using firms that may not have capacity to tackle the entire project but are capable of performing work on three of the nine buildings—still a sizeable scope of work.) This approach also resulted in stronger ownership and clarity of role in the overall success of the project by the individual project managers and superintendents that were responsible for each of the three “sub” projects.
Challenge: On the site of six of the nine building locations, soil conditions were verified to be prone to liquefaction (which occurs when a saturated or partially saturated soil substantially loses strength and stiffness in response to an applied stress such as shaking during an earthquake or other sudden change in stress condition, in which material that is ordinarily a solid behaves like a liquid.)
Solution: Prior to construction, our team oversaw the installation of geo-piers (a ground improvement method that pre-strains and pre-stresses the soil using soil replacement and soil displacement technology to strengthen soft soil and loose soil with very dense, stiff, rock columns constructed by heavy equipment, crowd force and vertical impact.)
Due to the nature of this work and the sheer size and scope of the Mary’s Woods site, the geopier machines became strained due to constant vibration. Two machines were brought in to ensure one was always up and running to prevent any schedule lags. All told, there were 3377 geopiers added to the site, totaling an impressive 84,425 linear feet of human-constructed underground rock columns.
Challenge: One of the greatest challenges to project flow was resident selection. Each of the 198 independent living units allowed for the residents to customize their unit; there was no base model. Customization options for residents were expansive and organized into three buckets—structural, rough-in and finishes—and included corresponding deadlines tied to the project schedule for each of the four residential buildings.
Solution: Once resident selections had been made during the sales process, that information was passed along to R&H to manage subcontractor buyout and corresponding scheduling. Customization was managed via Blue Fingerprint technology, an innovative software that tracks options with associated costs and provides a seamless platform of communication between home buyers, Mary’s Woods, and R&H to accurately and efficiently capture buyer choices in real time, leaving less room for errors during the construction process. The average unit received 34 customization requests, ranging from the addition of extra power outlets to the installation of a unique glass wall and changing the location of interior doors.
In addition to tracking the 6,808 total customization options that were made by residents, one of the main challenges associated with customization is the inability to bulk order finish materials as typically done on construction projects. Once each resident had signed off on their customization selections, the unit was marked as “locked” in Blue Fingerprint. R&H’s team was able to batch a wing or floor of a building at a time and release specifications of the customization (i.e. countertops, tile, wood planks, bathroom tile, carpets, etc.) to the subcontractors so that they could fast track order materials as needed. Items that R&H anticipated to be commonly selected were pre-ordered when possible to speed up the installation process.
Challenge: Building F, Rainault, was one of the three buildings added as a change order after construction was underway. This building was originally slated to sit 18” lower on the site and closely bordered the Dunn Commons Building. The lower elevation would have required complex and costly shoring next to the completed building Dunn.
Solution: R&H proposed constructing on an 18” higher grade, which led to cost and schedule enhancement as well as elevated the overall aesthetics of the building’s connecting skybridge.
The Village at Mary’s Woods development has been a complete success, with nearly all of the units occupied and rave reviews coming in from the Client, residents and visitors.